There are many things that can cause a sore throat. You can usually identify the cause by working out exactly where the pain is and how long you’ve had it. A doctor will usually be able to help diagnose the cause for you if the pain is severe (i.e, if it hurts to swallow or breathe or is keeping you awake). However, for most mild sore throats there is no need to see a doctor and it is better to try to diagnose it yourself. Below are just some of the possible causes to explore
Viral infections such as the are typically what cause a sore throat. Other symptoms to look out for include coughing, sneezing or a runny nose. A sore throat can spread to the tonsils and cause tonsillitis ( to find out more about tonsillitis). This form of sore throat will usually go away on its own after a week, but if it doesn’t you should see a doctor.
A bacterial infection of the throat is less likely to cause a cough or other cold-like symptoms. This type of infection is known as and may require a prescription of antibiotics to get rid of it. Bacterial infections can similarly spread to tonsils and cause major pain when swallowing. Some people can also experience a fever or nausea.
It is less common for an allergy to cause a sore throat. If an allergy is the cause, it will usually be accompanied by some kind of itchiness. Food allergies will usually cause an itchy mouth or lips along with an itchy throat. Pet and seasonal allergies are more likely to result in other symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes or wheezing. Antihistamines should clear up this sore throat.
Dry air (often caused by air con or being in a dry environment) can cause some people to develop a sore throat. This is usually accompanied by a dry mouth as is caused by lack of saliva in the mouth and throat. This form of sore throat tends to develop at night as a result of sleeping with one’s mouth open. Drinking water throughout the night, using a humidifier and turning down the air con could help prevent this sore throat.
Smoking burns the throat, which can lead to soreness. If you’ve been smoking a lot the night before or trying to inhale cigars, you’re more likely to notice it when you wake up the next morning. Many long-term smokers can eventually develop permanent sore throats that won't go away. Quitting smoking is the solution to this problem and could help your throat to heal.
Vocal cord strain
Overuse of vocal cords can also cause a sore throat, accompanied by a hoarse voice. If you’ve been at a loud party or nightclub the night before and you’ve been doing a lot of shouting, you may find the next morning that you have a sore throat. Public speaking, singing and acting can also cause vocal cord strain. It’s important to rest your voice to help your vocal cords heal (no shouting).
A sore throat accompanied by nausea, heartburn or a sour taste in one’s mouth could be caused by acid reflux. This is when stomach acid comes back up the oesophagus. Acid reflux can develop during pregnancy or as a result of a poor diet. Certain foods and drinks may trigger it for some people including alcohol, spicy foods, coffee and chocolate and are best avoided. If you suffer from severe acid reflux and struggle to keep food down, it is worth talking to your GP as they may be able to recommend medication. about acid reflux here.